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Are you a blood donor? The Riverhead Community Blood Drive is coming up on Tuesday. If you’ve never been a blood donor, you may be wondering, “Why should I donate?”

According to the World Health Organization, blood is in constant demand by a variety of patients:

  • women with complications of pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and hemorrhage before, during or after childbirth;
  • children with severe anaemia often resulting from malaria or malnutrition;
  • people with severe trauma following man-made and natural disasters; and
  • many complex medical and surgical procedures and cancer patients.

It’s also needed for regular transfusions for people with conditions such as thalassaemia and sickle cell disease. It’s used to make products such as clotting factors for people with haemophilia.

There is a constant need for regular blood supply because blood has a limited shelf life. And there are no artificial substitutes. Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed.

“Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life,” the World Health Organization says.

“A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components — red cells, platelets and plasma — which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.”

Hats off to the Reichel family

The Reichel family has organized the Riverhead Community Blood Drive for longer than I can remember.

The blood drive was founded by family patriarch, the late John Reichel, whose exemplary life was the very definition of community service. A 56-year member and ex-captain of the Riverhead Fire Department, Lions Club president and chairman of the Peconic Bay District of the Suffolk County Boy Scouts Council, he and his wife Barbara ran the blood drive for over 30 years.

His daughter-in-law, Lauren, picked up the mantle. She has been organizing the drive for 11 years now herself, with the aid of her daughters, Ariel and Macey.

“Some people inherit property, or money or yachts. We inherit a blood drive,” quips Ariel.

“I know how important it is. I needed blood myself,” Lauren said, referring to the tragic car accident in 2002 that claimed the life of her oldest daughter, Brieanne, then 16. Lauren was seriously injured in the crash.

“Give blood — Save a life” is more than just a slogan, Lauren points out.

Now, if all the excellent reasons to donate blood aren’t enough to inspire you to take an hour out of your day Tuesday, roll up your sleeve and give the gift of life, the Reichel women hope to lure you with homemade baked goods: specifically, their famous lemon squares, brownies and German sour cream coffee cake.

The Riverhead Community Blood Drive takes place Tuesday, March 3 from 1 to 7 p.m. at Riverhead Fire Department Headquarters, 540 Roanoke Avenue. You can make an appointment for your donation online. Walk-ins are always welcome.

Also coming up this week:

Enjoy music at the vineyards or programs at the library — from a photo essay about a trip to Amsterdam to a talk about Irish teatime — or you can learn about depression at a program presented by Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital at Peconic Landing in Greenport and “demystify” the plant-based diet at two programs in Southold. Check the Local calendar of events for details and information about more events.

Public meetings this week


The Riverhead IDA meeting which usually takes place on the first Monday of the month has been canceled and will take place instead on March 23.


County Legislature general meeting, 9:30 a.m. County Center, 300 Center Drive, Riverside

Town Board, 2 p.m., Riverhead Town Hall, 200 Howell Avenue


Town Board work session, 10 a.m., Riverhead Town Hall

Planning Board, 7 p.m., Riverhead Town Hall


Alternative Transportation Committee, 10:30 a.m., Riverhead Town Hall

In case you missed it

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.